Studio Owner / Instructor
I saw a quote a few days ago that I love, and I’d like to share it with you: A great attitude becomes a great mood, which becomes a great day, which becomes a great year, which becomes a great life.
I think I like this thought so well because I am a huge believer that our attitudes determine so much about our lives. I have seen people face overwhelming challenges and difficulties with a smile on their faces, choosing to be happy. And despite those challenges, these people have amazing days, and years, and lives.
With that in mind, I’m wishing us all a happy spring this month. This is a wonderful time of year as we watch the world around us bloom and blossom and grow.
Many of you recently participated in the Healthy Habits Challenge, an amazing opportunity to grow. I’m so proud of each of our Healthy Habits Challenge participants; what an honor and privilege it was to work together on becoming better and achieving something that was important to us.
I’ve heard from so many of you about the incredible benefits you experienced during this challenge. Our highlight piece this month focuses on three of our Bikram Yoga members who chose to incorporate the same healthy habit during the challenge—eliminating sugar.
I am one of those people who believe that we consume way too much sugar, and that it has a profoundly negative effect on us, yet I also understand how difficult it is to eliminate it from our diets. Be sure to read the highlight and see what kind of experiences they had.
I look forward to this summer and continuing to work together to achieve goals, be healthy, and choose happiness.
Less about being skinny and more about being healthy
More and more we are hearing about the terrible effects sugar has on us—not just our bodies but also our minds. Bikram yogis understand as well as anyone the essential connection between body and mind, and it makes perfect sense that something that is toxic and damaging to our bodies would affect all aspects of our lives.
This spotlight won’t be a scientific or research article about how bad sugar is for us; we’re all aware of the information that is out there. It’s pretty simple: As a society, we consume staggering amounts of sugar, which most research indicates has significantly negative on our health and well-being.
Instead of focusing on the research, we’re going to focus briefly on the real-life experiences of three of our Bikram Yoga friends—Liz Dixon, Angie Munnerlyn, and Chari Curtis—chose to eliminate sugar from their lives. Their experiences were profound.
Liz has been practicing Bikram Yoga at Brick Canvas almost since we opened, and she’s added Hot Pilates in the past few weeks as well. She’d been reading a lot about sugar and its toxic effects. “I actually listened to a news program on NPR with a pediatric endocrinologist who talked about how the long and short of it is that sugar is a poison,” Liz says. “It’s addictive and changes the way our brains operate. And I’d read a bunch of other stuff talking about how fat doesn’t make us fat, sugar makes us fat. I’d cut it out once before and done really well, so I decided to do it again.”
Because she’d done it before, Liz knew it wouldn’t be easy. “There’s sugar in everything!” she observes. “There’s sugar even when you don’t think there’s sugar—like taco seasoning! I had put off committing to doing a challenge, because I know myself. Once I decide to do something, I’m a little OCD—if I say I’ll do it, I’ll do it. But I finally just decided to do it, and I did.”
The first three days were the hardest, reports Liz, but then she was OK. She cut out all processed sugars and even eliminated high fructose fruits and starch sugars (potatoes, rice, and breads); she did eat lower fructose fruits and used pure stevia on occasion. “I found substitutes that were equally satisfying and didn’t give me that Monday morning hangover feeling,” she says. “And once a week, on Sunday, I did have on piece of sourdough break slathered with butter.”
Besides simply feeling better, Liz lost weight (particularly belly fat), gained energy, and—as an unexpected side benefit—eliminated a hormone issue she was experiencing. Although the challenge is over, she’s continued to eliminate sugar. “I just felt really happy about this. This is less about being skinny and more about being healthy. I just feel more in control of myself and what I’m doing.”
Angie had been suffering from debilitating chronic headaches for more than a year when she heard about Bikram yoga, specifically that it might reduce her headaches and neck pain. She’d seen multiple doctors, dentists, massage therapists, and chiropractors throughout the year, and knew she was willing to try anything, so she signed up in January—just in time to participate in the Healthy Habits Challenge, opting to cut out sugar because she was hoping it would help eliminate the headaches as well.
“The first week of two of yoga was hard and painful,” she says, “but I stuck with it because of the challenge. Honestly, earning three to four stickers on my chart each week was a serious motivator!”
Angie’s headaches didn’t completely disappear, but the difference has been significant. And she experienced additional benefits as well. “I noticed that no sugar helped my energy level be more consistent,” she observes, “and that sugar is the cause of a lot of my pain and inflammation.”
She checks off other benefits as well—“I am more relaxed, more grateful, happier, stronger, have more positive energy, and am simply healthier.”
Although she’s introduced sugar back into her diet, she’s kept it at reasonable amounts. “It’s hard to be sugar free,” she says, “but I am now aware of my sugar intake and I can continue to monitor it in a good way. And I understand that it directly causes me pain.”
Last year was a rough year for Chari, who had two herniated discs plus rounds of cortisone shots and steroid treatments. She worked with Louis to adjust her yoga and exercise routine to accommodate permanent disc and nerve damage, and was thrilled when she found out that much of her physical therapy matched the exercises she was already going for yoga.
“Through this process, though, I put on five pounds and felt unhappy and unhealthy,” Chari says. “I was really excited about the Healthy Habits Challenge. Three days a week was perfect for me, and I knew I needed to get away from all the comfort and junk food I was eating.
“I don’t ‘diet’ though,” she continues, “because the second I go on a diet, I start craving things I haven’t eaten for 20 years, like Twinkies. Gross! So the challenge I wrote on my chart was ‘more water and less crap.’ If I’d known I would be sharing this in the newsletter, I probably would have chosen a more appropriate word than crap.”
Chari cut out pop and kept her Bikram Hydro Flask filled with water at all times. “I stopped eating processed foods and sugar and focused on foods that would feed my body the nutrients it needed,” she observes. “I find that when I eat healthy, the sugar cravings go down, and I start to crave healthy food.”
The results were pretty impressive. She lost five pounds, her skin cleared up, and the pain and achiness of her fibromyalgia decreased. “Sugar makes me feel tired,” she reports. “And more important than weight loss is how much better I feel mentally and physically. By removing sugar, I have more energy and more focus, and my attitude and outlook on life is better.”